Social Security Disability Lawyers Serving South Jersey
Social Security Disability
Attorneys for the Law Offices of Hoffman DiMuzio have been representing clients seeking disability benefits since 1978. Over this time, our attorneys have represented thousands of clients who were dealing with the often devastating results of becoming disabled and require guidance and support in getting the benefits they need.
Requirements For Proof Of Disability
The Social Security Administration uses a 5 step evaluation process to determine if one is disabled. Unless an impairment is expected to result in death, it must have lasted or be expected to last for a continuous period of 12 months. The claimant must prove the following to be found disabled:
- the claimant is not engaging in “substantial gainful activity” [meaning work activity doing significant physical or mental activities];
- the claimant has an impairment or combination of impairments that are “severe”, or which limit an individual’s ability to perform basic work activities;
- the impairment meets or “equals” one of the impairments described in the Social Security regulations known as the “Listing of Impairments;” or if a Listing is not met;
- whether considering the claimant’s “residual functional capacity” or what the claimant can still do even with his or her impairments, the claimant is unable to do “past relevant work”; and
- other work within the claimant’s residual functional capacity, considering age, education, work experience, does not exist in the national economy in significant numbers.
Do I Qualify For Social Security Disability?
Social Security Disability (SSD) is a program for workers that functions like an insurance program. There are requirements that must be met in order for a claimant to qualify for disability insurance. They must have paid Social Security taxes over a sufficiently long period of time to be “fully insured.”
Also, claimants must have contributed recently enough to have “disability insured status.” SSD provides benefits to disabled or blind persons who are “insured by” workers’ contributions to the Social Security trust fund. Your dependents may also be eligible for benefits from your earnings record.
To be fully insured a claimant must have one QC (quarter of coverage) for every calendar year after the year in which they turned 21, up to the calendar year before becoming disabled. For those over 31 years old, the claimant must have 20 quarters of coverage out of 40 calendar quarters before he/she became disabled.
This is referred to as the 20/40 rule; significant work in five out of the last ten years usually satisfies this rule. To receive any Social Security disability benefits a claimant must prove that they were disabled before the “date last insured.”
Hiring A Social Security Lawyer
As you can already tell, the SSD program can be an incredibly complex system to deal with. Thankfully, the attorneys at Hoffman DiMuzio are intimately experienced in guiding our clients through this process from the knowledge and practice obtained through decades of representing clients throughout the region.
Click to hear more about Hoffman DiMuzio.
Do I Qualify For SSI?
The Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program is a federal welfare program for the disabled (including disabled children, blind and those over 65). These benefits are paid out of general tax revenues not the Social Security trust fund like SSD. To be eligible for SSI one must meet all of the following requirements:
- Be “disabled” as defined under the Social Security disability program.
- Meet the income and asset limitations of the SSI program;
- Be a U.S. citizen or fall into the group of limited exceptions to the citizenship rule; and
- File an application
There are both income and asset limitations for eligibility. Claimants may receive both SSD and SSI benefits if the Social Security disability benefits are very low. The asset limitation for an individual is $2000 and for a couple is $3000. Title XVI of the Social Security Act authorizes SSI benefits.
Just because you may not qualify for SSD payments, or have been denied for SSD, does not mean you do not qualify for SSI. Let the knowledgeable attorneys at Hoffman DiMuzio work to get you the benefits that you deserve.
The Social Security Process Explained
There are four levels of the social security administrative process...
The Initial Application
Once an application is filled out and submitted, a decision is generally issued within three to five months. However, the vast majority of applicants are initially denied, as the denial rate is approximately 90%. Applicants may then file a Request for Reconsideration within 60 days of denial.
At this stage, you will need to provide an update on your medical conditions and may be required to submit to a medical and/or psychological evaluation. A decision usually takes 4-8 months to be made. However, even on reconsideration, the denial rate is incredibly high, about 80%, and even higher for those under age 50. If you are denied at this stage, a Request for Hearing must be filed within 60 days.
Hearing before an Administrative Law Judge
Once you appeal, it can take approximately 18-24 months (or longer) to get a hearing date scheduled. You again will also have to provide an update of all medical records and treatment. At this hearing, you will testify to a Administrative Law Judge regarding your limitations. Be mindful that the Judge is not bound by the previous decisions made by the SSA, and this stage is often where applicants have the greatest chance for success.
Review by Appeals Council
If you have still not been approved, you may submit your case for Review by the Appeals Council. This must be done within 60 days of the decision of the Administrative Law Judge. Generally this appeal is limited to cases where you believe there was an abuse of discretion by the Administrative Law Judge, or a finding of fact or law that was unsupported by substantial evidence. Appeals to this level take 18 to 24 months.
Expediting Social Security Disability Claims
As reflected above, the Social Security process is a lengthy process. For cases at the hearing level where a “dire need” situation exists (such as when a claimant lacks food, medicine, medical care, shelter or utilities) the case may be marked as “expedited”. This allows certain cases to move to the front of line faster. However, we must be able to provide evidence of dire need (foreclosure /eviction notices, etc). Please contact our office if you believe that your situation qualifies as a “dire need” situation.
Social Security Lawyer Cost
How your social security lawyer gets paid...
The SSA must approve all attorney fees and they are paid directly by the SSA. The attorney fees are 25% of all past-due (back) benefits awarded to the claimant or $6,000 (whichever is the lesser amount). No attorney fee is owed if Social Security benefits are not awarded.
Free Consultations For Social Security Disability
If you want to know if you qualify for social security disability benefits, or have applied and been denied, call the Law Offices of Hoffman DiMuzio now at 856-637-3000 or use our online LIVE CHAT function to schedule your FREE CONSULTATION with one of our attorneys who answer your questions, advise you of your rights, and explain your options going forward.
Call now and let Hoffman DiMuzio provide you with the representation and support of experienced attorneys to help obtain the benefits you deserve.
Meet A Social Security Lawyer At The Office Nearest You
Meeting with an experienced New Jersey SSD Lawyer is easy with our five convenient South Jersey locations. We will schedule a consultation at the office location that is nearest you.
Find Out If You Have A Social Security Disability Case
Call the firm directly at 856.637.3000 or fill out the form below...
Disclaimer: please note this page was written to provide information about the law and is not legal advice.
- Lawsuit must be filed in United Stated Federal District Court;
- Decision of Administrative Law Judge (upheld by Appeals Council) can only be challenged if 1) it is not supported by substantial evidence and 2) a legal error was committed
- Lawsuit must be filed within sixty (60) days of final decision.